• Final draft length: no less than four (4) FULL

Your Task

Your task for this assignment is the same as every other research paper you’ve ever written (assuming you’ve written a research paper before)—“to skillfully support a carefully formulated thesis with documented evidence […] You will begin your research with an idea of what your position is, then research your subject extensively, arrive at an informed opinion, and finally defend that position by presenting evidence that seems valid (that is, logical and convincing) to you” (Ackley 120).

Throughout the course, you will have studied very different writers, writings, and writing styles. Yet, even though they are vastly different at times, the literature progresses but still shares some common issues. For this assignment, you are going to discern what that common bond is and use specific works to show a connection between time periods in British literature as is evidenced in through the literature we have examined.

Your Research

For this assignment, you will use our readings and our class discussions. Additionally, you will incorporate outside sources into your work. Finally, you will also use your own opinions, feelings, and circumstances to create a synthesis of ideas about the particular piece of literature you are examining.

Your Audience

You should assume that your audience is educated but uninformed about the topic. Hence, you do not need to explain every little detail, but you will need to give examples and/or clarify unfamiliar terms.

Examples of Paper Topics

First, I want you to pick a theme/idea/right/event that connects at least two different time periods. In other words, the two or more works you examine must come from different volumes or periods. You may pick an idea or theme (marriage, empire, nature, etc.), or you may pick a historical event (war, Industrial Revolution, etc.). Either way, I want to see how each period deals with the situation differently and how authors of the time dealt with the situation, change, etc. Below is a list of suggestions, but please keep in mind that they are exactly that – suggestions. Feel free to come up with your own idea and to run it by me if you are unsure of your topic.

  • War
  • Marriage
  • Revolution
  • Technology
  • Urbanization
  • Working conditions
  • Faith
  • Individualism
  • Alienation
  • Capitalism
  • Disillusionment
  • Empire
  • The individual’s place in society
  • The individual’s place in world
  • Nature
  • The government or its structure
  • Health
  • Property rights

Second, you will pick two authors that we have covered from TWO DIFFERENT PERIODS and will use their literature to examine the changes or developments that your topic had made in their culture/time. While I will suggest that using simply one work from each author will provide a better analysis and probably a better essay, I will allow you to use up to three works from each author.

Your Thesis

For this assignment, you are making a claim that you believe to be true. Your thesis must be a strong claim that is written so clearly that your reader will have no question as to what your claim is and what your main reasons for having this claim are. Your thesis needs to be exceptionally strong for this essay, and remember that a good thesis is narrow, challenging, and grounded. This will help keep your paper unified and directed.


All essays should follow MLA formatting guidelines found in your handbook and textbook. You need not turn in a separate title page with your essay.

Your Research

It is always a good idea to keep your writer’s reference and textbook with you. Each time you use a source, go ahead and create a bibliographic entry for it, recording everything you need on a working bibliography page or an index card. Also, when taking notes, you will need to decide if you want to summarize, paraphrase, or directly quote from each source. Also remember that even if you summarize some of the ideas that you got from a book or a website or two, you must give an in-text citation and a works cited entry for that summary or paraphrase. Just because it is not a word-for-word quote does not mean that you can claim the idea as your own. If you are scared of being caught accidentally plagiarizing, the best way is to send a copy of your essay and let me check it. “You must take accurate and careful notes, reproducing and author’s words exactly as they appear if you quote, completely restating the author’s words if you paraphrase, and accurately capturing the essence of the material if you summarize. In any case, you will give a citation in your paper, so you must record the source and page number for any notes” (Ackley 141).

While the majority of the essay will consist of your analysis of the literature and how it discusses or develops your topic, you will also need to incorporate research into your essay. You can do this in a number of ways: research your topic/history, research your author, or research what scholars have said about the works you are using (my personal favorite). You can even do a combination of these things. But, do not overwhelm yourself or your essay with outside work. The majority of the words written should be your own ideas.

You will only need to incorporate three outside sources ASIDE from the literature you will use (so, for you math majors, that means you will need to use at least five total sources…three outside, research type sources and two pieces of literature). All sources must be documented using proper MLA format. One of these sources must be a print source, but all material must come from a valid, reputable source. Please see me if you question the validity of any source. Oh, and uh, WIKIPEDIA CANNOT BE USED AT ALL (because it is not a valid source). Also, be sure to create a works cited page and an in-text citation for every source you use. See an MLA handbook for more information or visit for more help with this.

Handling Source Material

“Probably half of the paper will be your own words. These words will usually include all of the introductory and concluding paragraphs, all topic sentences and transitional sentences within and between paragraphs, and all introductions to direct quotations. Furthermore, you need give no citations for statements of general or common knowledge, such as facts about well-known historical or current events” (Ackley 145). When incorporating sources into your essay, be sure to use the “quote sandwich” method, carefully setting up the quote and then analyzing it after you have inserted it. (The quote sandwich is my way of describing how to incorporate source material: First you set up the quote, i.e. that is the bun [example: “Dr. Smith of NYU quotes,”]. Then you insert the quote or the “meat” or “veggie burger.” Finally, you analyze the quote and show how it proves your point or your thesis.)

You must not simply drop material into your text but be mindful of providing smooth integration of your source material into your own text. After all, the text is your work: the thesis of the paper, the overall organization and development, transitions from point to point, general observations, and the conclusions are all yours. Your source materials serve to support, illustrate, develop, or exemplify your own words. This means that the source material must not interrupt the flow of your words or call attention to themselves. They are an important and integral part of your own paper. (Ackley 145-6)

In-text citations

“Remember that you must name your source for any borrowed material. The parenthetical citation must give enough information to identify the source by directing your reader to the alphabetized list of works cited at the end of your paper. The citation should also give the page number or numbers, if available, on which the material appears” (Ackley 149). See your handbook or textbook for help on using MLA in-text citations. Be sure to also note exceptions to author-page format.

Works Cited

“The Works Cited page of a research report lists in alphabetical order all the sources you cite in your paper. It comes at the end of your paper, beginning on a separate page. Include an entry for every work quoted from, paraphrased, summarized, or otherwise alluded to in your paper” (Ackley 152). Other tips for your Works Cited page: Works Cited pages must begin on a new page at the end of the essay continuing the pagination from the essay; type the words “Works Cited” (without quotation marks, bold, underlining, or italics) centered one inch from the top of the page; the first line of your citation will begin at the left margin, but all subsequent lines of the citation should be indented five spaces or one-half inch from the left margin; keep the citations double-spaced from beginning to end; and place a period at the end of each entire entry. See your handbook or textbook for more information and specific examples.


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